The Surprising Reason Your Dog May Be Sick

Being the responsible pet parent that you are, you know the basics when it comes to your pet’s health. Annual vet checkups, regular vaccinations, and plenty of exercise paired with proper nutrition. But did you know some of the most harmful germs and bacteria could be lurking right in your home where your pet enjoys their meals? 

That’s right – your dog’s food and water bowls could be hosting bacteria that can make your dog sick! And, while certainly not intentional, it’s up to dog owners to ensure that bacteria doesn’t have the opportunity to thrive and grow. So how can you protect your pup from disease-causing bacteria and keep their health in check? Read on to find out.

How Your Dog’s Dishes Can Make Them Sick

We love our dogs, but let’s face it – the inside of their mouths can be a pretty dirty place. Your dog’s mouth and tongue contain bacteria that bind together, and, as such, stick to the surface of any area they lick, including their food and water bowls. 

This makes their bowls a host for harboring a variety of germs and bacteria, including Salmonella and E. coli, which can cause illness in both pets and people. By neglecting to clean your dog’s bowls regularly – just as you would any dish you use to eat or drink out of – you could be unknowingly conducting an in-home science experiment of your own Petri dish designed to help bacteria to grow. 

Signs Your Dog’s Dishes are Making Them Sick

The first sign your dog’s dishes are causing them to feel sick is a noticeable change for the worse in their breath. That’s because bad dog breath is caused by bacteria, which can grow and form plaque on your pet’s teeth.

Other leading indicators of a bacterial infection (including E. coli and salmonella) include upset stomach, diarrhea, vomiting, and excessive lethargy. If it’s been a while since you’ve cleaned your dog’s bowls, and your dog is experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s best to get them to the veterinarian to get checked out ASAP. 

Protect Your Pup from Harmful Bacteria 

While germs and bacteria can be harmful, thankfully, they can also be avoided. To best protect your pup, start by ensuring that their bowls and eating area remain as clean and sanitary as possible.

This means cleaning their bowls at least daily. Start with their water dish, and run it under very hot (meaning you can’t stand to touch it) water and dish soap. Then do the same with their food bowl, using a clean dish cloth to scrub it clean. If you have time, you can then run the bowls through the dishwasher on the hottest cycle to sanitize them. 

Additionally, you’ll want to ensure you’re bleaching the bowls to properly disinfect them and get rid of any built up bacteria at least once per week. Start by combining ½ cup of bleach with one gallon of water and let your dog’s food and water bowls soak in the mixture for about 10 minutes. Follow it up by thoroughly rinsing the bowls and letting them air dry. If you have the time, you can also throw them through a disinfection cycle in the dishwasher. This weekly process kills bacteria, germs, and diseases like parvo – a leading cause of severe illness and death in dogs, especially dogs under six months old. 

While disease-causing bacteria can be scary, keeping up with regular cleaning and sanitizing of your dog’s food and water bowls can help keep germs at bay. Treat your dog’s bowls as you would your own dishes and their health (and mouths) will thank you!

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